A lot of my friends who don’t have kids (which is a huge chunk of them) have asked me how motherhood is and what having a kid is really like. I almost wrote this yesterday, which would have been a bad idea because yesterday was one of those rare great days where everything goes as scheduled, crying is at a minimum, and napping is at a maximum. You seriously forget anything bad that has happened ever and it probably would have been the most inaccurate blog post I have ever written. This always happens to me at night too – I look at my sleeping baby and all of the screaming crying for absolutely NO reason, the explosions, the leaky boobs, the nap fights that happened that day (or the naps that DIDN’T happen) completely erase from my brain.
I am going to start this post off by saying I love my kid more than life. Seriously. No regrets at all – I still check on her to see if she is breathing, I freak out when she spits up, I mean, this girl is rad, BUT – this shit is HARD. HARD. I was thinking about it the other day as Zara refused to nap (which causes her to spiral into an overtired death eater mood that really can humble a person). In life, there are things you won’t be good at. For me, I can compare this to sports – if I wasn’t good at a skill, I would just work really hard at it. Over and over again – and progress would be made. Parenting is like practicing that skill over and over and over again having great intentions but also no clue what you are doing, and seeing absolutely no progress being made. I wake up in the morning saying OK, today I am going to get Zara to nap – you follow the routines, you feed at a certain time, you try to wear them out, they yawn, but as soon as you put that tiny human in anything that resembles a bed – they wake up all over again but this time a little less happy and a lot more angry. So some days my parenting advice is: just make it to bedtime and then treat yo self. It sounds horrible, but once you have kids there will be days you wait until those crazy babies finally give up and close those teeny eyeballs.
I am in a cool phase right now with Zara – she is 4 months and she loves looking around and seeing what is going on around her. She is seeing things for the literal first time. She smiles at trees, my doggies, the beach, and refuses to let me cuddle her unless she is facing AWAY from me. There are a few things that become challenging now that this is happening and one of those things is breastfeeding. When she was a newborn, I could feed her anywhere. She would just sit there and eat all peacefully and cute. Now when I try to feed her it is like taking a banshee child and trying to calm her down to eat. There are flailing arms and legs, sometimes crying (who cries when they eat amirite?), sometimes squealing, basically it is not like those cute pictures anymore. I encourage the curiosity she has, but it makes feeding in public a little more scandalous. She will eat and then hear a noise and turn and look, leaving my boob fully exposed to the rest of the world. Then she will just hang out there with her head turned towards the world, but if I cover up my boob, then she will want to come back and eat, so I just have to leave it right out there in the open. Look away sir, look away. My child obviously does not understand the way our society sexualizes women’s bodies.
With all of this responsibility to keep a human alive comes a lot of fun things, too. Zara holds my face in her hands (and proceeds to try to fit it in her mouth), she laughs when my family dances with her, she smiles when the doggies lick her, she thinks I am hilarious (which is a huge boost to the ego, and obviously the most important fun thing). She looks at me like I am a flawless parent (which is sort of scary because I look at her like “what the actual hell did I get myself into?”). I love this person and some days I can’t even explain why.
Every morning I wake up, it is humbling. Before thinking about myself, I hear a screetch or a giggle or a scream over the monitor and it is a reminder that my first priority is someone who is not me. A good friend from college, Mallory, has checked in on me to see how the mom life is going and she told me that she learned a lot about herself in each phase of her kid’s life – it is so true. I have learned to be a lot less selfish (and a lot more efficient when I have time to myself). I have learned that trying to communicate to Zara through the monitor telling her to go back to sleep does not work. I have learned that maybe instead of being so focused on what I am not, I should look at myself the way a kid does – which is focusing mainly on all that I am.
Motherhood isn’t all roses and Zara isn’t always cute. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t cry (y’all crying Zara breaks my freaking heart every single time). I have scars, lopsided boobs, a soft belly, and a permanent headache. I have never felt more clueless, googled “when I can give my child Benadryl” more often, yet so freaking strong and fearless before in my life. Some days I want to escape my life and elope to Mexico by myself, some days all I want to do is lay in bed with “talking” Zara and be a mom (that still sounds so weird to me). It is really something that you can’t explain until you are in it, but I am working on accepting the new role life has called me to be in and being able to love myself in it.